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A Coalition for Conservation

Nicholas School’s John Terborgh Backs Petition to Extend Endangered Species Act Protection to 225 “Wait-Listed” Plants and Animals

Wednesday, May 5, 2004/DURHAM, N.C. – John Terborgh, director of the Center for Tropical Conservation at the Nicholas School, has joined a national coalition of scientists, artists and environmentalists petitioning the Bush administration to cease delaying Endangered Species Act protection for 225 of the nation’s most imperiled plants and animals.

The species are currently on a federal waiting list, euphemistically called the “candidate list.” More than one third of them have been on the list for at least 20 years, and nearly 80 percent have been wait-listed for at least ten years.

“These magnificent species are at death’s door,” said coalition member Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “If they are not protected soon they will be lost forever.”

A recently released retrospective study determined that 114 U.S. species have gone extinct since the Endangered Species Act went into effect in 1973, Terborgh noted. “The federal government has chronically dragged its feet on new listings no matter which party was in the White House,” he said.

Among the 225 species named in the petition are the Puerto Rican elfin woods warbler, placed on the waiting list in 1982; the Oregon spotted frog, wait-listed in the United States since 1991 despite being granted endangered species protection on an emergency basis by the Canadian government; and two wildflowers – the Southeast’s white fringeless orchid and Utah’s Aquarius paintbrush – which were first placed on the list in 1975.

Terborgh’s co-signers on the petition include: Primatologist Jane Goodall of the Goodall Institute; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner E.O. Wilson of Harvard University; Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, author of “The Population Bomb”; Michael Soule of the University of California-Santa Cruz, founder of the Society for Conservation Ecology; Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History; Thomas Eisner, director of Cornell University’s Institute for Research in Chemical Ecology and a National Medal of Science winner.

A complete list of species named in the petition is available online at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/Programs/bdes/cp/index.html.

Media contact: Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084 or tdlucas@duke.edu